With the Oct. 20 election on the horizon, the Mirror wanted to ask School District 72 board of education candidates for their views about education and some of the key issues. We tried to cover a lot of ground, but we still had to limit ourselves. There were many other relevant questions we could’ve asked around technology and coding, the new curriculum and graduation requirements, inquiry or project-based learning and many others.
Most of us take universal public education for granted, but in historical terms, it is still in its infancy. Compulsory education was only brought in throughout most of Canada in the late 19th century. As an institution, it is very much a work in progress – meaning that it becomes all the more important for everyone to take part discussions around schools and children.
Because of space considerations, we have uploaded the candidates’ answers to each question to the Municipal Election section of our website, www.campbellrivermirror.com, and other than some light editing for style, etc., we’ve let them speak in their own words. What follows here is a summary of their responses and quoted one or two candidates, though we are unable to quote everyone here. (Again, that underscores our reasoning for posting the responses online.)
Question 1 asks the candidates what public education has meant to them. Some of them outlined their experiences as students and how their life was transformed by a teacher, such as Daryl Hagen, who recounted his move to the school in Willow Point.
“A teacher and the principal saw a scrawny little boy and challenged him to get an A (it was a bribe of $1.43). I had never seen so much money I ran home studied and got an A,” he said.
Others talked about their experiences working in the school system or related fields, while some discussed the need to improve standards in the public system for the benefit of students.
For Question 2, we asked the candidates to address funding priorities. They outlined a number of issues such as better pay for teachers and support staff, more predictable levels of funding from the province, special needs students and replacing some facilities.
“I believe our thrust on infrastructure level work should be on finding a way to replace Cedar Elementary School,” Ted Foster said.
For Question 3, we wanted the candidates views on supporting vulnerable children coming into the school system, how to increase grad rates and how to engage with local First Nations students and communities, such as the enhancement agreement and the Indigenous Advisory Council.
Said Richard Franklin, “This process of genuine consultation was a good start for better engagement with local First Nations.”
Many talked about the work the district is already doing with students entering the school system and with First Nations students and communities.
Finally, for Question 4, we asked for candidates’ views on SOGI, the Ministry of Education resource package aimed at making schools more welcoming environments for LGBTQ+ students. Proponents pointed out that it was a provincial resource as well as about the need to support the students, the majority of whom feel unsafe in schools and experience much higher than normal suicide rates. Opponents cited the need for parental consultation, the presence of anti-bullying programs already in place and questioned gender fluidity theory.
“These types of gender fluid ideologies promote widespread child abuse, as they hold no scientific truth and are leading children down destructive paths,” said Vanessa MacLean.
Readers should judge the candidates for themselves, and Oct. 20 go out and vote.